Saturday, February 28, 2015

Aging peacefully


 City Daily Photo bloggers, for March 1 Theme Day, are posting their interpretations of the theme "aging" (or "ageing," depending on where you live).

What came to mind, having just visited the soon-to-open Elma Arts Complex Luxury Hotel,  are these top wines-- mostly Israeli--aging peacefully in modern wine refrigerators or wine chillers at the hotel's various restaurants and bars.
Of course, the wine in these bottles is kept at optimal serving temperature too. 

Here is something funny from Wikipedia's Aging of Wine:
 During the course of aging, a wine may slip into a "dumb phase" where its aromas and flavors are very muted. In Bordeaux this phase is called the age ingrat or "difficult age" and is likened to a teenager going through adolescence. The cause or length of time that this "dumb phase" will last is not yet fully understood and seems to vary from bottle to bottle.
The Sharon plain near the Mediterranean coast and just south of Haifa, surrounding the towns of Zichron Ya'akov and Binyamina,  is Israel's largest grape growing area; and this is where Elma is located.
You can read all about Israeli wine at Wiki.
(Linking also to Whimsical Windows, Delirious Doors.)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Hail, hail, the gang's all here*

My kids all came to Israel for the week of Feb. 9-15 for their father's funeral.
That was the week of wild weather -- dust storms, thunder and lightning, and to the north snow.

We left Tel Aviv soaked and bedraggled after gale force winds and driving rain caught us on the way to the train.
Here son Edo holds hailstones that awaited us at our destination on that last day together, the new Elma hotel**.
But he was also squinting because the sun had come out.  Go figure.

Here is the view from the hotel, which hugs the southern slopes of the Mount Carmel range.

And looking to the other direction, inland.

West of the greenhouses and fish ponds and farm fields -- the dark blue of a wavy Mediterranean Sea.

Lots of agriculture.   (All the photos can be enlarged with a click or two.)

The weather changed back and forth rapidly in the 24 hours that we stayed at the hotel.
This dark and threatening sky was at 3:00 in the afternoon. 

Then just two hours later came this beautiful light.
*One version of the 1917 tune: 
(listen on YouTube at the link)

"Hail, hail, the gang's all here,
Never mind the weather, here we are together;
Hail, hail, the gang's all here,
Sure we're glad that you're here, too!"
 . . .
**UPDATE: Just published in XNet/Ynet!: stunning aerial photos of Elma hotel now and as it was in 1968, when it was Mivtachim (a rest & recreation place of the Histadrut).\!  Also interior shots.

(Linking of course to SkyWatch Friday! )

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Green grape leaves, stuffed


For ABC Wednesday  G  is for grape leaves, stuffed and ready to go in the oven!

Elma, the new special hotel I've been telling you about, believes in the "eat locally" philosophy.
And there is certainly no lack of grape leaves in Zichron Ya'akov

After becoming the patron of the struggling pioneers who started the moshava Zichron in 1882,  Baron Edmond James de Rothschild a few years later helped establish the first winery in Israel, Carmel Winery, together with a bottling factory, in Zichron Ya'akov.
 In 1892 the grapevines succumbed to phylloxera, but after a brief set-back, American seedlings resistant to the parasite were grown and the winery began to flourish.
Today you can tour the active winery and see one of the huge wine cellars that were carved into Mt. Carmel over a century ago.
This short video shows  a bit of charming Zichron and the new Center for Wine Culture

* Elma's website is a work in progress, and the hotel/arts complex itself is nearing completion and its official opening.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

New life for a Brutalist building


Here is the arts complex/hotel that houses the new organ we saw in the last two posts.
It hugs the slope of Mt. Carmel, in the town of Zichron Yaakov.
Under the clouds you see the Mediterranean Sea. 

Our rooms were nice even though the hotel is not yet officially opened.
Tomorrow I'll show you the view from the balconies, wow! 
It may be hard concrete on the outside, but inside is the soft life.  : )

Elma is a total renovation of the Mivtachim building which originally was meant for members of  the big HMO Kupat Holim as a yearly vacation place, a "rest home." 

Built in the 1960s at the height of Brutalist architecture's popularity in Israel, there is lots of raw concrete inside and out.
The term Brutalism was coined in 1953 from the French béton brut, "raw concrete," a phrase used by Le Corbusier to describe the poured board-marked concrete with which he constructed many of his post-World War II buildings.
 (So far in this blog we have talked about architectural examples in the "Brutalism capital of Israel," Beer Sheva.)

Lily's Terrace is named for Lily Elstein, the wonderful lady who is pouring all her heart and fortune into building this unique place where artists can live and create or perform and where hotel guests can freely mingle with them.
(Linking to Our World Tuesday and  Whimsical Windows, Delirious Doors memes.)

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The new organ at Elma Arts Complex

Yesterday I introduced you to Israel's newest organ at Elma Arts Complex Luxury Hotel in Zichron Yaakov.

Here is how Israel Organ Association describes it:
 Following the indications of the architect, German organ builder Philip Klais succeeded in filling a rather small volume situated above the stage with 24 stops (1326* pipes). There was no need, and indeed no room, for a wooden chest enclosing the instrument. As a consequence, all 16' and 8' pipes are covered because the place was not high enough to contain open pipes. All the pipes of the "façade"(front) of the organ are cut at the same length. Some of these are real pipes, from the Subbass 16' and the Principal 8', each one using only a part of the height of the pipe, and the others are make-believe "chanoines". The audience, sitting in the hall, cannot see the difference between them. The whole front looks like a large metallic curtain. The reason for this seems to be the need to use the pipes themselves as a separation between the hall and the organ, to prevent heat, humidity and dirt to get inside the organ. The console is just under the organ and facing it, so that only the back of the organist can be seen. The console itself is of the greatest simplicity: no cover to insure protection, no ornaments, no manual or feet commands except for a swell pedal and three sequences selecting pedals.
*some say 1414 pipes

The organ and pipes are way up on top, behind the nine tracks of lights.
(You can enlarge any of these photos with two separate clicks of your mouse.)

Some of the 24 stops.  The white part is made from crushed bone.

The two keyboards are protected by velvety covers with the famous company name.
It took two months to assemble all the handmade parts in Germany, then the organ was disassembled for shipment to Israel.
Here it took one month to rebuild it and then one month to tune. 

And of course the music on hand in case someone wants to demonstrate his skill and the organ's tone -- Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor!
See more about this organ and Israel's other (mostly church) organs at the Israel Organ Association website.
UPDATE June:  See a spectacular video of Cameron Carpenter playing this organ in concert!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Mirror mirror on the organ, who is the fairest one of all?


Finally I found a reflection for James' Weekend Reflection meme.
And it's none other that my son, Edo!
(The photo is enlargeable with two separate clicks, ahem!)

The mirror is for the organist to see the orchestra conductor.

The beautiful new organ was recently installed in the Elma Arts Complex Luxury Hotel in Zichron Ya'akov, on our Mediterranean coast.
See the organ in situ in its 450-seat auditorium at their website.

Our excellent tour-of-Elma guide, Gilat  (my step-daughter, who has a high position there), pointed out inter alia that Israel has fifty or sixty pipe organs.
But most of them are in churches.
Elma's organ is the only one in the country purpose-built for a concert hall.

I'll have more for you about the organ and the hotel in the coming days!
UPDATE June 25:  See video of Cameron Carpenter playing this organ as only he can!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ashes and snow


Jerusalem is entering into Lent today, Ash Wednesday,  with the imposition of ashes.
And tomorrow the Holy City will be getting snow, again!
Ashes and snow. 
If you are looking for some Lenten inspiration, education, and even humor,  have some Coffee with Sister Vassa
Just click the "Reflections on Lent" playlist on her YouTube channel.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Jewish funeral, Israel style

Have you ever been to a Jewish funeral?
I can walk you through the normal Israeli way of burial if you'd like.
Last Tuesday we were at this big cemetery in central Israel. 

Relatives and friends of the deceased arrive on their own and then gather in  this building.
There is a little time to greet the mourners and converse.
The body should be buried as soon as possible after death, preferably with 24 hours.

 Then the shocking part comes, when they bring the body, wrapped in a white shroud, on a stretcher and put it on this bier.  That's where I start crying.
Folks gather round while someone gives a eulogy.  
The collar of the close family is cut by the Chevra Kaddisha (burial society) official.
The immediate relatives (male)  recite the Kaddish prayer. 

On the wall is written verse 7 of Ecclesiastes (Kohelet) 12:
"And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it."

Four mourners carry the stretcher out onto this wagon . . .

and the long walk to the far side of the sprawling cemetery begins.
The Orthodox Chevra Kaddisha man chants prayers and Psalms along the way.

The body is lowered into a deep grave, covered with a few concrete slabs, and then covered with the good earth of Israel.
Male people are welcome to shovel a bit of dirt.
But the main work is then quickly done by a young religious man with a turia (a big hoe).
The closest relatives say Kaddish again.   El Malei Rachamim (God, full of mercy) is sung by the cantor.
A few people bring flowers but the more Jewish custom is for each to put a little stone on the grave. 
And that's it, the end of a life. 

My kids and I lingered around the fresh grave until a Bobcat drove up behind us and already started digging new holes.

Then the tractor drove in loaded with the concrete slabs.
Wow, they couldn't wait.
People are dying to get in to this cemetery.
Other cemeteries have run out of ground and are now burying people in multi-story fashion.

Thirty days after the burial the family returns for the ceremony to set the tombstone.
I must admit, the Jewish way of burial and mourning is very respectful and the ritual is supportive.

People say in Hebrew,  "May you be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem and may you know only good news."
You are welcome to see the two previous posts on this subject.
Linking to ABC Wednesday.)

Monday, February 16, 2015

All together for Abba


Yes, I have been away for the last week.
It was a sad week but also a glad one.
My kids flew in from Australia and California and all the family reunited in Tel Aviv, that was the glad part.
They came for a funeral: on February 10 at noon their father was buried.
Moshe has been my ex-husband for a long time, but he was my husband for 22 years.
He died a good death after only one day and one night in the hospital, with his two oldest daughters at his side. 
Now the week of mourning has ended and the kids are already on their flights to the far corners of the world.
I am back home in the desert with lots of new memories and photographs.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Keeper of the gate


Feline gatekeeper at Segula Cemetery,  February 10, 2015.

The gate rolls open promptly at 6:00 a.m.

The Bible verse quoted on white is Ecclesiastes/Koheleth 12:5,
"Then man goes to his eternal home." 

1 Remember then thy Creator in the days of thy youth, before the evil days come, and the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say: 'I have no pleasure in them';
 2 Before the sun, and the light, and the moon, and the stars, are darkened, and the clouds return after the rain;
 3 In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out shall be darkened in the windows,
 4 And the doors shall be shut in the street, when the sound of the grinding is low; and one shall start up at the voice of a bird, and all the daughters of music shall be brought low;
 5 Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and terrors shall be in the way; and the almond-tree shall blossom, and the grasshopper shall drag itself along, and the caperberry shall fail; because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets;
 6 Before the silver cord is snapped asunder, and the golden bowl is shattered, and the pitcher is broken at the fountain, and the wheel falleth shattered, into the pit;
 7 And the dust returneth to the earth as it was, and the spirit returneth unto God who gave it.
. . . 

(Linking to Camera Critters.)

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Dog day


A dog trainer giving positive reinforcement!

Yesterday,  Shabbat, many Meitar dog-owners came to the new dog training and exercise place.
I showed how it was being built by volunteers a few months ago, in honor of their beloved veterinarian who died.

Long at the long hair!
The red Irish Setter's tail hair even needs to be braided! 

Dr. Doron Avishai's widow (on the right) was enjoying how the place was making everyone happy, both dogs and humans.

(Linking to Camera Critters.)

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Cubby house in the eucalyptus grove


In the last post we saw how someone had brought a bed out into the desert near Meitar.
Here we see how somebody made a cubby house under a tree in a secluded eucalyptus grove in town.

From a distance your might not even notice it's in there.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A bed for Tu BiShvat


Tonight/tomorrow is the Jewish holiday Tu BiShvat, the birthday of our trees.

I would like to make my bed among trees in a liman in the desert, with stars above, and jackal calls as a lullaby.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

What I miss most

Our City Daily Photo group's Theme Day asks the question:
If you had to leave forever the city from which you usually post, what or who would you miss most?

From 2008 I blogged from the Jerusalem Hills, covering Jerusalem and the hills of Judea round about her.
Actually I did have to leave my hill, and likely forever, just a year and a half ago. 
What I miss most is this 12th century house built by the Crusaders.
Please, go ahead and click two separate times on the photos to see and appreciate each beautiful stone.

The hill country is where John the Baptist grew up.
The Crusaders built a chapel over the rock hewn tomb in which John may have buried his mother, Elisabeth.

Later, sometime in the 15th century a hermit added this small hermitage.
The small room has a common wall with, and a passageway into, the chapel.
The hermitage was my home for several months; it was a time and place like no other.